Schmidt Hammer Lassen reveals plans to revitalise former brewery in Riga

Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen has won a competition to repurpose a derelict brewery in the Latvian city of Riga, introducing offices, a hotel and a public plaza.

The Kimmel Quarter occupies almost an entire city block of Riga’s Central District and takes its name from the nearby Brewery Kimmel, a beer manufacturer that operated throughout the 1800s.

Now abandoned, Schmidt Hammer Lassen has been chosen to transform the former brewery’s buildings to include offices and a hotel with a public gym, cafe, spa, childcare facilities and food court in its base.

Rather than proposing a complete overhaul, the winning plan focuses on “enhancing the charm and authentic character of Riga’s historical fabric”.

“The resulting architecture is distinctly modern, but in a rewarding dialogue with the old restored buildings. We have designed a new Kimmel Quarter in which history and future are bound by timeless architecture,” said Rasmus Kierkegaard, associate partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen.

The design was selected ahead of proposals submitted by 10 other practices that included Henning Larsen Architects and Zaha Hadid Architects.

A series of courtyards will link the old building to greenery-filled of terraces and roof gardens. The architects will also turn the brewery’s yard into a covered plaza.

As a nod to the brewery’s original architecture and material palette, the space will feature arched walkways and recycled brick surfaces. Water features will use rainwater collected on the roof.

The recycled water features are amongst a handful of sustainable features that the architects have incorporated into the project.

Large panels of glazing that will be integrated into the building’s gridded facade have been designed to let in optimum levels of daylight, while lamellas offer shade during sunnier weather and minimise the need for exterior cooling systems.

Kimmel Quarter will not be the only major project ongoing in Riga – London-based firm Adjaye Associates is currently building a major new art museum for the city which will feature an angular roof and concrete-waffle concourse.

David Chipperfield is also refurbishing a 19th-century brewery in Berlin to house a gallery, restaurants and medical innovation centre, while the disused Badaevskiy Brewery in Moscow will play host to Herzog & de Meuron’s new horizontal skyscrapers.

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